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FAQ: It's the iPhone 5

Gregg Keizer | Sept. 14, 2012
The rumor mill nailed most of the iPhone 5 features, but that doesn't mean there aren't questions about it. Here's our answers to those questions.

Prepping for Friday's pre-sale? AT&T, Sprint and Verizon customers in the U.S. can check eligibility now at Apple's site.

I want one, but my contract isn't up. What will I pay? More than you want, we'll bet you that.

Because each carrier handles still-in-contract fees for the iPhone 5, you'll have to contact yours to price the move. And that move can be very pricy.

We checked a Verizon iPhone 4 that has a contract set to expire in mid-October to get an idea. According to Verizon, we'd have to pay $649/$749/$849 for the 16GB/32GB/64GB iPhone 5 before the contract expiration date.

That's a $450 surcharge. Yikes.

What does the iPhone 5 look like, feel like? Different. It's taller by 0.3-in. for one thing, a 7% increase over the iPhone 4S, 18% thinner and about 20% lighter, according to Apple's specifications.

Keith Shaw and Ken Mingis discuss the features of Apple's iPhone 5 smartphone, and whether the larger screen, 4G LTE network and other features will excite the legions of Apple fans.

The device's aluminum case is milled from the same stock used for MacBook laptops. The iPhone 5 comes in the familiar black or white, with corresponding-colored glass in strips on the back's top and bottom to allow radio signals to penetrate the case.

Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi, who attended the iPhone 5 roll-out, was most impressed with the feel of the new model. "What really strikes you about the iPhone 5 is how light it feels in your hand," said Milanesi. "But it still retains a quality feel to it. That was the most surprising to me, that when you touch it, the quality is obvious."

Anything different inside? Tear-down artists will be able to give us the lowdown within a day or two of Sept. 21, but some things we know: The iPhone 5 is powered by an A6 -- not the iPhone 4S's dual-core A5 -- packs an additional radio chip for LTE and support for 801.11n Wi-Fi, and has slightly more battery capacity than the iPhone 4S, with a 12.5% increase in claimed "standby" time.

What's the A6? It's the Apple-designed SoC, or "system on a chip" that combines the processor with other silicon, including the graphics processor, to power the iPhone 5.

Apple's not said much about the specs of the A6 -- other than to claim it's twice as fast as the iPhone 4S's A5, and 22% smaller -- but yesterday claimed that it's based on a dual-core Cortex-A15, ARM's top-of-the-line design in the Cortex-A line.

According to ARM's website, the Cortex-A15 that's suitable for smartphones is available in 1GHz to 2GHz speeds, in either single- or dual-core configurations.


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